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Friday, April 1, 2011

Taobaospree + Dream of Lolita + An*tai*na purchase

So these came in about a week or so ago. Took a minute to post them because I was filming me opening it and stuff for Tanya's thesis. (it -could've arrived that day, but DHL was retarded) That and I was just being completely lazy.

I only ordered things from Taobao once before by myself, and that was through Mashimaro Girl, before they went under and off the map. I was a little bit skeptical with Taobaospree since the thing with MG, but I decided to try it out anyways since there was so much good feedback with it on EGL Livejournal.

Taobaospree is a bit of a network(?) when it comes to the way they're set up. As far as I understand, Susan is the top agent, when you email them she's the one who assigns a person to a specific agent. You pretty much go to that one agent for every order, they keep a file on you with whatever you order. (And you can always ask to switch agents if you wish). Not sure how many people in total are part of TaobaoSpree, but as far as I know there's Susan, Susan Zeng (you call her by Zeng not to get them mixed up), Lucy, and Doris, plus one agent who works specifically with all the shipping out of the items, so there's at least 5 people working under this business. To me that's pretty big, and it's good because it helps keep one person from getting overwhelmed by the volume of orders.

Taobaospree charges 10% service fee, and then on top of it they give you the advantage of their 40% discount with EMS. If you've shopped with other taobao sellers before, you might've noticed that sometimes shipping would be maybe 80-100+ for a simple 2-3 items, which was ridiculous and usually the reason why I never ordered before. But this outfit which was just that JSK + the boots came out to only$51 and change for EMS, which is really good.

Communication was good for the most part, maybe a bit more slower than I would have liked from my agent Zeng (at the same time, this was near Chinese New Year so the slowness was obviously expected for a while), the agents have MSN accounts to IM to if you wanted, which is nice.

Made my order sometime in the first two weeks of January, cool. Order went out, etc. They let me pay deposits since I'm a lolbrokestudent which was pretty nice. The shoes arrived to them the weekend before my birthday (so around the 22ndish), but my dress came MUCH LATER, like after CNY. Once I paid them the rest of the money, that's where I had a bit of an issue.

I had originally asked Zeng (and I e-mailed her it maybe 2-3 times over the course of the transaction, just to make sure I understood the way the shipping works and stuff) to send it EMS. Their default is DHL, because as she later explained, EMS was a bit of an issue with them sometimes, like something happened with one customer that had her package stuck in customs for a month and she blamed them for the delay. This kinda sorta happened with my friend Laura too, where she got her package sent but it took 2 weeks to arrive because it was held in customs during most of that time.

I understood that, but I still had a preference to have my things shipped EMS. I never had used DHL before, but after hearing stuff about DHL with Bodyline orders I was sort of iffish about them. Even if my package got stuck in customs, at least it'd be in the customs at JFK airport, and on top of it we're friends with our USPS deliverer, so he knows what to do if we aren't home, etc. If he missed us and happened to send the stuff back to the office, we can easily just call him by his cell and ask if he could possibly bring it back (badass, right?)

Anyways I sent the last deposit, but apparently there was a small error because Zeng forgot to calculate the weight of my JSK with my boots or whatever so I still owed a little bit of money, but she still sent it out. DHL. At first I hoped it was a mistake on her part, I asked her if she made a mistake, a week passed and she never replied to my e-mail, so I IMed her and she responded immediately, and when I asked thats when she told me she had already shipped it, DHL. and im like "oh boy... ok."

So I'm like alright, let me check the tracking number she gave me then. It said it was sitting in Washington, D.C.. I'm in New York, so immediately I'm like, "um, Zeng, I'm hoping you mixed my tracking with someone else's, because this is in a whole other state than my own". And she apologized and she went to the shipping agent to try and figure what happened.

So it was either a few hours, or maybe the next day, they're still trying to figure it out. So me being impatient, I called DHL myself, found out that they posted the postal code wrong, and the customer service lady fixed it and then it got sent to my house 2-3 days later. Then I waited for Zeng to contact me herself, maybe for a day or two, but she didn't. When I did IM her, she answered and told me what happened and whatnot. I told her that I knew already, I fixed the problem on my own.

I'm in the middle of a group order with An*tai*na right now, and I asked to have my agent switched to Lucy. Susan explained to me that Zeng was in the middle of putting down a loan for a house which is why her responses were really slow, but I personally feel that even though life is in the way of things like that, you should still take the initiative to get back to your client, especially when there was an issue with the shipping. I'm online on MSN all the time, you could've IMed me to just let me know quick, yknow? But no hard feelings on that.

Serious TL;DR version:
Taobaospree shopping service: Zeng (agent)

Communication: 6/10 it was fine but once my shipping issue came up, she wasn't as responsive as I had expected.
Pricing: 10/10. Compare this to most Japanese shopping services that charge 20%, Taobaospree only charges 10%
Shipping & Handling: 7/10. Asked for EMS but got sent DHL, and then had my little bit of an issue afterwards. But packaging was good, dress was packaged nicely, I had the shoes sent without the box to make the shipping cheaper, but they were packaged nicely, not smashed or anything like that. The pricing was affordable.

Overall, Zeng is nice and I understand her situation with the home loan and stuff, but now that I switched my agent I probably won't go to her again. Once she gets her stuff situated she's worth trying to work with though.


Moving onto the items themselves....

Dream of Lolita Little Bear's Cafe JSK replica

Having seen and drooled over the original kinari version in Tokyo Rebel when it released, I was so intent on getting it. But with a sucky job back then, and birthday plans underway, me and Laura decided to get the replicas first, and then get originals for ourselves later. DoL didn't have the kinari version, so I settled for the brown.

One thing I disliked about DoL, is probably there was no notice on when the items were gonna be done. Initially I assumed that it was stock, already made and everything (that's how Lolita Princess was like, and they sent my dress right away). But the dresses are actually made to order, and I ended up waiting a whole month before Taobaospree received the dress. This may or may not be from Chinese New Year's, but being that Laura ordered hers back in December and never got hers until when Taobao got mine, that just tells me they were a bit overwhelmed by the volume of orders. I expect this during Christmas- New Years season, but I also expect there to be a notice on approximately how long it'll take to get made. The owner didn't really tell Zeng when stuff would be arriving.

Besides that, I was EXTREMELY satisfied with the quality of the piece. The original was made with I think corduroy, the DoL replica was not, but was made with a similar, thick fabric. The print is on point the trimmings on the dress were nice. (DoL has the tendency to post photos of stuff before they're completely finished, so the photo will show some really off, shitty lace but then when you get it you'll see they tried to make it as close as possible to the original). The shirring isn't tight like brand new brand clothing tend to be, it stretches pretty nicely, and the skirt is lined with a built-in petti liner. The waist ties (I usually just throw them in my drawer, I barely pay attention to them anymore) are one-sided. I ordered the large to be safe, but the L was actually big on me! Nothing a little tuck-and-stitch can't fix though. Me being like 5'7, the dress ends about just above knee-length on me. I personally wish that the shoulder straps were a bit longer, but at the same time that's just me wishing that the empire-waist design was like a normal-waisted JSK LOL

Detail on the waist


Stitching on the inside

Built-in liner

the trim at the hem of the skirt

Quality/Construction: 10/10. This is ridiculously similar compared to the original as far as I remember, I'm tempted to compare it side-by-side to original one day. It's definitely not an item that will fall apart right away or anything like that.
Communication: 7/10 There wasn't much communication between Taobaospree and them, though it was around the holidays so I normally excuse that.
Shipping: 10/10 The dress came nicely wrapped in plastic, I'm assuming that is how it was sent, rather than Taobaospree's doing.

Overall? I would most likely order from Dream of Lolita again, however I would not suggest or expect to get anything from then within a short time frame. If you were gonna buy a dress for a con or something, I'd suggest to get it ordered two months in advance just in case.

And lastly:

An*tai*na brown knee-high boots - http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=6707088617

These are the second pair of shoes I've bought from An*tai*na. I love looking at An*tai*na at the brand replicas, because I have huge size 9-10 feet and typical LL shoes usually don't fit which is unfortunate.

The only thing I hate though is their screwed up sizing! You really have to learn what is your proper size or else you would've wasted time and money getting a size too small, which is what happened when I got my black tea party replicas back in October.

Basically, their sizing is based on the actual inner measurement of the shoe, not going by your foot's measurement. I didn't know this in October so when I got my size 41/25.5cm tea parties, they didn't fit at all. My foot was squished, and any attempt to stretch the shoes (wearing them around for a few days, the wooden shoe stretcher, etc) ended in failure. So learning from that mistake, I bought these in size 42/26cm, and the extra .5cm gave my feet the breathing space they needed.

When I first looked at these boots I were skeptical because of how they looked, but I went along with it anyways. And now I am so glad that I got them. They are the cutest! Not only was I worried about the sizing, but the color as well. In the picture you see at the end that the bows on the boot were cracked, and the brown color looked like it -could've- been way off, but when they came the bows were not cracked looking or uneven in color at all, and the color itself is a nice dark brown.

The clip-on bows on the side were loosely stitched so you can easily just take them out... sucks though because while I was rough-housing somewhere, I ended up losing one ; ~;

How the heart looks once you detach the bow clip. It's a bit of damage but nothing too bad.

Bow clip, and the back of it below~

Quality/Construction: 10/10 VERY nice. Exceeded my expectations. And they fit so well too!
Communication: 10/10 An*tai*na has always had a pretty good rep in the EGL community for a long while now. I didn't ask for a rush order or anything I don't think, but they have a pretty good friendship with Taobaospree, having had a "free shipping" promotion back in September
Shipping: 10/10 I can't say how the boots were packaged, since I had Zeng remove the box so my package could be lighter, but when they arrived they were in perfect condition, not being crushed by the dress or anything like that.

Overall? Now that I finally figured out my RIGHT SIZE, An*tai*na will definitely be my main go-to for lolita-style shoes. (Now if only they started producing Jesus Diamante replicas...

I forgot to take photos of the outfits I wore these with, so here is my plain pics when I first tried them on:

Anddd grainer photos from a video I took:

That's pretty much it for this review, I should have another An*tai*na one coming up soon~


Amani said...

So... fe

Amani said...

dude, if you like wearing cute shit in general, do it xD the shoes i mean. like hnnnghhh

Amani said...

fuckin cute,i still need shoes from her~

Amani said...

It really looks awesome on you, it's maybe because you're black but wow, just wow *o*

Amani said...

Guys very recently we started a business called Chinabuy in Australia to help you purchase from Taobao and other Chinese websites (we're Chinese Australians, we speak both English and Chinese). In particular, our goal is to address most if not all issues of those Taobao agents out there. Here is how:

* We're an English-speaking Australian business. Our team is 100% Australian-based. So it would be much easier to deal with us.

* We bargain on your behalf and pass on the saving to you. We want to emphasise this is very common when it comes to shopping from online marketplaces such as Taobao in China. If you ask a Taobao agent out there for your transaction record on Taobao they'll probably refuse -- wonder why? They bargained and put the money in their pocket rather than yours!

* We provide you the original Taobao transaction record. That means whatever price we've bargained, you get the same price. For example, if we have the domestic shipping cost waived, you will have it too.

* All you pay is item costs + shipping. We don't charge a service fee. The service charge is notorious as it potentially involves a minimum charge, a cancellation fee, or a payment surcharge. So we've decided to remove it altogether and simplify the fee structure, to bring you an uncomplicated, transparent shopping experience.

* We offer competitive exchange rate directly from Chinese Yuan to Australian Dollars, so No US dollars for Australian residents.

* Our shipping rates are one the lowest in our industry if you'd take a little while to compare.

Check out our website today http://www.chinabuy.com.au and we're sure you'll love our service if you give us a chance to bring a smile on your face.

Amani said...

Awesome! I really like what you've purchased. Packaging seems to be thoughtful.

I would vouch for http://www.chinabuy.com.au and they don't charge a service fee if you're in Australia.

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